Italy sets decoder standard

Telepiu, Stream may not meet Media Authority's deadline

MILAN — Under legislation approved Wednesday by Italy’s Media Authority, the nation’s broadcasters must begin using a standardized digital TV decoder system before June 30.

Because Canal Plus subsid Telepiu and Rupert Murdoch/Telecom Italia’s Stream are the only two digital players in the country, the ruling affects just those two in the immediate future.

Deadline appears dead

However, both Stream and Telepiu are unlikely to meet the June 30 deadline, according to financial and industrial analysts. Both are in dire financial straits and reluctant to invest additional money, fearing that an open decoder might hamper business.

Telepiu’s 1 million subscribers use a Seca Irdeto decoder with software produced by Media Highway. Stream’s 500,000 subscribers have an Irdeto (NDS) box, with Open TV software. The two systems are already open for normal programming — meaning subscribers can receive both TV platforms — but the decoders are not able to decipher their competitor’s interactive, multimedia services.

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